Sermon – January 5, 2020
John 11:38-44 – When Jesus Speaks (mp3)
Jesus has given us many signs, the raising of Lazarus is the last and greatest of these signs. Here, he shows his great power over the grave and death, and he calls Lazarus out of the tomb with a simple word. This is nothing less than what Jesus himself does for us, as he shows us that he is the resurrection and the life, the Messiah, the Son of God who has come to win victory over all our enemies.
John notes again that Jesus is angry, and it is worth considering again why. He is surrounded by sorrow and unbelief. His friend, whom he loves, has lost his life to sin and death. Such things are typical and normal in life. But such things bring the anger of Jesus, for they speak wrongly of him, the love he has for his people, and they are ultimately his enemies. Behind all of this stands Satan, one who was a murderer from the beginning, and the power he wields is nothing less than death. His record stands practically undefeated in the world.
But his record is about to be tarnished. Jesus gently rebukes Martha, reminding her that she was already told that she would see the glory of God. She was opposed to opening the tomb, for she thought that the fight was already lost. The stench was already present. Yet, Jesus knows that the victory of Satan is always and only partial so long as he is around. He prays, not to ask for the resurrection to happen, not to see if it is in God’s will, but simply to thank him for the miracle that hasn’t even happened yet. Further, this prayer was for our benefit, so that we might know and believe that Jesus is the hero that he has claimed.
The victory of raising Lazarus is not a long drawn out affair. It is over at a word. Lazarus was gone. Repeatedly spoken of as just a dead body here, Lazarus as a person was long gone. Yet, Jesus brings him back, makes him again, simply by calling him into existence. What power can stop him? What could Satan possibly do to overcome Jesus? The Devil’s greatest power is death, and Jesus overcomes death with the use of a simple word. This he does for us, even if it is less dramatic. We, dead in our sins and trespasses, are called back into life, into the knowledge of God, into the very family of God. Believe in Jesus, for with him, no power can destroy you, no enemy can overcome you. To stand against him is to succumb to nothing less than death. Trust him and live!